Police seek to charge ex-pres Yameen and ex-minister Azima

The police have forwarded a case of money laundering against former President Yameen Abdul Gayyom and his lawyer, former Legal Affairs Minister of the President's Office, Azima Shakoor to the Prosecutor General's Office.

In the recent months, both President Yameen and Azima Shakoor were summoned to the police station multiple times for questioning over graft allegations.

In a statement released on Wednesday night, the Police revealed that the the funds embezzled from Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Company (MMPRC) was deposited into a Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB) account under former President Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's name after which it was laundered. The police have also learnt that both Yameen Abdul Gayyoom and his lawyer had provided false information to state authorities regarding the funds.

Therefore, the police are seeking to charge Yameen Abdul Gayyoom with providing false information to authorities, while they seek to charge Azima with being an accessory in laundering the embezzled funds and attempting to falsify information.

The police also revealed that an amount of $1 million was deposited into President Yameen's account by SOF Private Limited, whose account was used to move around the embezzled funds.

Upon investigation, it was identified that the funds were supposed to be deposited into State accounts, and President Yameen was subsequently asked to transfer the funds back to state accounts. However, President Yameen had not obliged with the request. It was also identified that the funds were utilized for personal benefit, and moved around between his accounts in ways that could generate financial benefit.

While the case investigation has been concluded by the police and sent to the PG, Attorney General's Office recently shared the evidences obtained by the office regarding the transactions.

Attorney General's Office earlier revealed that they have obtained evidence that former President Yameen Abdul Gayyoom and jailed former Vice President, Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor were involved in a money-laundering scheme.

They revealed that main ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had submitted several documents that confirm suspicious transactions were carried out or planned to be carried out by Yameen, Adeeb several other senior government officials of the previous government.

The documents presented by MDP were compiled after analyzing data collected from mobile phones that belonged to Adeeb, with the assistance of an international fraud investigation firm. An investigative report by the firm along with supporting documents were also submitted to the AG office by MDP.

According to the report, forensic imaging was conducted on the obtained data by a data recovery and intelligence firm authorized by the Home Office of the United Kingdom, stated AG.

After reviewing the documents, it is probable that those involved in the scandal can also be charged with bribery and corruption in addition to money laundering, said the AG Office.

The documents have now been shared with the presidential commission on Corruption and Asset Recovery by the Attorney General's Office.

The AG Office is currently conducting discussions with foreign experts in order to strategize the recovery of the assets lost from the state.

The official audit report into the Maldives Media and PR Corporation (MMPRC) scandal, had revealed that over USD79 million had been embezzled through the state tourism promotion company.

Al Jazeera cited a confidential letter sent the country's anti-money laundering body to the police saying the then president received the money in two installments to a private bank account at the Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB).

The document from the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), an agency under the Maldives' central bank, was dated September 13 and was addressed to the then acting police commissioner Abdulla Nawaz.

In the letter, the FIU said a third party deposited USD648,508 in hard currency into the president's account on September 5. Another USD810,635 was deposited to the same account on September 10.

The whole amount was later withdrawn in hard currency, Al Jazeera said referring to the letter.

The former president continues to deny the allegations insisting that he had done nothing wrong.